I have learned a lot about skin care over the years. When I was a young teen, about thirteen, I began to suffer from mild acne. Thus began my escapade with every acne medication known to man :). I can see in hind sight that all the medications only complicated my situation. My acne went from mild to moderate, and I began to get cystic acne on my chin. Two rounds of Accutane could only keep my spots at bay for a short time, so my love/hate affair with topical medication continued into my early twenties. To read more about my history with acne you can read my first blog post.
I remember having the most neurotic thoughts about my skin, like when the bird flu craze was all over the media I thought to myself, "If I can't leave my home, I won't be able to get my prescription acne medications." What in the world was I thinking?!?!..... What about food? Who was I worried was going to see me with some pimples in the middle of this supposed crisis, and why did I think they would care about my skin?! I was a crazy woman about my skin.
I can honestly say some of that anxious emotion was tied to certain foods I was eating at the time, but some of it was also me feeling out of control in my life. I wanted so badly to feel in control with my skin and my body. I was confused, slightly depressed and lost. Focusing on my appearance allowed me to not focus on the real problem. The real problem was I didn't truly know myself and I wasn't on path, meaning I wasn't fulfilling my souls deepest yearnings. I was trying to do what I thought I was "supposed to do", what society and often family and friends expect us to accomplish, but it wasn't feeding my soul so I lacked enthusiasm and drive. I fixated on other things to avoid the uncomfortable nagging of my soul.
It wasn't until I began to change my diet that I began to get very clear mentally. I began to tune into my true self (or some might call this my "higher self") and it was then that every aspect of my life began to rapidly change, including my skin. In the past, I had always been afraid to go off my acne medications. Now that I had a new awareness, I decided I didn't care any more what the consequences were for my skin. My decision was about my health, not vanity. I knew for the health of my entire being it was the best choice to stop putting toxic chemicals onto my skin and in my body.
I remember that week so clearly. I stopped all my medications at once. I was using two topical medications, one in the morning and one at night. I was also taking birth control pills which I was convinced was also keeping my skin clear. I stopped those too. I decided I was done with all over the counter medications also. I swapped Tylenol and Claritin for homeopathic herbs from my acupuncturist. I kept waiting for the horrific acne to present, but it really wasn't that bad. I wondered if the medications were unnecessary the whole time, but then I would slip and eat some pizza and wow! Sore pimples and greasy skin.
I have been on this raw food journey long enough now that I have a very consistent diet and I can't remember the last time I had pizza :). I have learned what works best for my body and I no longer have crazy cravings unless I haven't gotten in enough greens :). I have experimented enough though to share that for me, dairy and refined sugar are sure enough to bring on breakouts. Grains tend to make me very puffy, like I can't recognize myself in the morning. Cooked oils make me oily :), and on a different note make my throat really sore. Too much salt, raw or processed, causes me to break out. Salt is my Achilles heel, but I get better with that vice every day and my body seems to be guiding me in the right direction.
With skin, less is always more. This goes for your diet, what you do to take care of your skin, as well as what you put on it. These days I try to keep everything as simple as possible. I'm not perfect, and I still get small breakouts from time to time, but practice, attention to my diet, listening to my body and continuing to work on self growth has proved to be a great formula for healthy skin. Oh and how could I forget love :). Loving others and loving yourself. Practice emanating love as much as possible and not only will you feel more beautiful, but you may find little things that used to bother you about your appearance slowly fade from your thoughts and are replaced with thoughts of gratitude.
I keep it really simple and don't put products on my skin I would be afraid to eat. I wash my face with a mild soap (like Dr. Bronners or Terressentials) only if I am wearing makeup. Otherwise, water or a flower water toner do the trick. I do exfoliate by dry brushing my skin and sometimes use a gentle, natural scrub. That's about it! Occasionally I'll do a clay mask, but it's not a consistent part of my skin care routine. I rarely need moisturizer. But sometimes I will spritz with some essential oils because it smells really nice :). If I am in a super dry climate or it's a really dry winter, a tiny amount of shea butter does the job.
Diet has made the largest impact on my skin. I can't stress enough that the health of our skin starts from within. Not only will a raw foods diet with lots of greens improve acne, but you will see health in the sparkle of your eyes, the color in your cheeks and the rosy tint of your lips. I used to hate how pale my lips were without lip gloss. I really don't need it now unless it's for fun. My lips take on a healthy pink color because I flood my body with oxygen.
For more details on skin care and my beauty musings you can check out my interview with Laura Bruno about natural beauty here.